Ryse: Son of Rome Mars' Chosen Pack
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2014-03-02 Xbox One Action M (Mature) Crytek / Microsoft Studios

After finishing Ryse on all difficulties, I've been pretty entertained with the Colosseum, leveling up my gladiator to 100 and obtaining better gear. Although I'm not fond of going online with strangers due to previous experiences with stupidity and insults, the Mars' Chosen Pack made me jump on random matchmaking for the first time in years. As much as I was enjoying myself, I really don't want to go back online with strangers because of one major thing: communication.

But first things first, and more about communication later.

Mars' Chosen adds a few new features to keep things interesting. Those who already had the season pass were able to access the new DLC a few days in advance, so that was a nice surprise I wasn't aware of.

I was pretty excited to see all the Chronicles finally available, since I've been wanting to read those comics but the font on the companion app was too small to be legible on my Android, with no option to zoom in. It was nice to learn more background story about the characters and see bits and pieces that help fill in the gaps.

The new content includes a new Legionary skin, which I obviously had to try on, and although I am partial to the Damocles skin, I like having the Legionary available so I can switch between "good soldier" Marius and "badass" Marius. But that's me though, I have all the skins anyway, and I'm sure if you gave me a pink tutu I'd put it on my gladiator too at some point.

Mars' Chosen raises the rank bar to 130, so just as I get 100, here I go grinding again! Although it really is not so bad, I can get an average of 35-45k Valor per solo round, so 8 levels went by fairly fast the first night playing. It seems there may have been some changes in the experience gain, but I can't be sure because I've switched some equipment around and have a slightly better bonus. Speaking of equipment, reaching Rank 130 unlocks the new Tier 6 Boosters, which cost 1500, 3000 and 4500 gold for Copper, Silver and Gold packs respectively.

The addition of Survival Mode offers three maps where you can test your skills with a friend and see how long you last, while your health is constantly draining. The already familiar Courtyard was optimized for Survival, while Dockyard and Firestorm bring new challenges.

Firestorm's added difficulty comes from the narrow spaces you must fight in, while Dockyard has you fighting in a fairly open space where projectiles are a constant threat. The area marker from projectile damage looks different now (skull in center, red inner and outer circles) and you no longer hear that high-pitched ringing sound when a catapult or arrow thrower is about to shoot, so pay attention to the ground.

Enemies become progressively more difficult and your health depletes faster the longer you are alive for. You also you earn bonus experience points every 5 minutes, and the only way to regain health is by killing the incoming barbarians. Challenging and fun, and certainly something to make all the health gear count.

Five new achievements have also been added, making the total go up an extra 250 points:
We'll Never Survive (50) - play a round of Survival Mode
Big Bling (50) - equip your first Tier 6 item
Oh, Let Me Have a Little Bit of Peril (50) - Survive for 7 minutes in Dockyard Survival Mode
No, It's Too Perilous (50) - Survive for 7 minutes in Firestorm Survival Mode
You Were In Terrible Peril (50) - Survive for 7 minutes in Courtyard Survival Mode

Two new Egyptian-themed Round to Round maps were also added, Pyramid and Obelisk. In Obelisk, you defend the construction site from the incoming hordes. In Pyramid you defend the construction of the monument and actually watch the pyramid get bigger with each goal completed, while you fend off never ending hordes of enemies and release prisoners.

Pyramid is pure eye candy to me, and it was the first stage I played, and I desperately tried going at it with a friend, but somehow we weren't getting each others game invitations. So I ventured into matchmaking for the sake of trying the new stages.

Obviously, the first time I jumped in I had no idea what to do except follow the on-screen directions and markers, but apparently the other player was even more clueless than I was or just couldn't follow said directions.

The first wave went relatively well, we even pulled off some co-op executions and I was really enjoying the look and feel of the map. I thought this was actually going to be a good round. Big mistake! This person was soon enough lost in his own little world, constantly running off, doing his own thing. Soon enough I figured out the pressure plates needed both players to stand on them to open gates, while others required each of us to stand on one to proceed.

This is where communication came into play, but no matter what I said, this person was just not listening or not giving a damn about the goals. Hardly ever used focus too. Never once said a word. Then eventually dies. I was left fending off the big bad barbarians with the animal heads while trying to revive him, but managed. But he wouldn't move on to the next goal. And then he all of a sudden blows his focus all at once and abandons the stage as we're reaching the end. And this is why I hate going online with strangers, I always seem to get stuck with the douchebags. Well, on a positive note, at least I didn't get the usual "HAHA, A GIRL?!" outburst, followed by insults reaction.

Anway... communication. Do talk to your gladiator partner, it makes coordinating efforts so much easier, and you will want that coordination especially in Survival Mode. Actually, if any of you decent folks who don't just leave games in the middle (unless the world is ending or the internet connection dies) want someone to play a few rounds with, email me (didi @ gamersintuition.com) and we can exchange gamertags. I really only know one friend who plays Ryse, and I'm sure by now he's tired of me constantly bothering him for a game.

The Ryse: Son of Rome Mars' Chosen Pack costs $8.99 (free for Season Pass holders) and is available for download now on Xbox One.

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